Q. To this the adherents to this belief might answer, that if even the orthodox dogma does promise the impenitent sinner and materialist a bad time of it in a rather too realistic Inferno, it gives them, on the other hand, a chance for repentance to the last minute. Nor do they teach annihilation, or loss of personality, which is all the same.
A. If the Church teaches nothing of the kind, on the other hand, Jesus does; and that is something to those, at least, who place Christ higher than Christianity.
Q. Does Christ teach anything of the sort?
A. He does; and every well-informed Occultist and even Cabalist will tell you so. Christ, or the fourth Gospel at any rate, teaches reincarnation as also the annihilation of the personality, if you but forget the dead letter and hold to the esoteric Spirit. Remember the parable spoken of by St. John. What does the parable speak about if not of the upper triad in man? Atma is the Husbandman-the Spiritual Ego or Buddhi (Christos) the Vine, while the animal and vital Soul, the personality, is the "branch."
I am the true vine, and my Father is the Husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the Vine-ye are the branches. If a man abide not in me he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered and cast into the fire and burned.
Now we explain it in this way. Disbelieving in the hellfire which theology discovers as underlying the threat to the branches, we say that the "Husbandman" means Atma, the Symbol for the infinite, impersonal Principle, while the Vine stands for the Spiritual Soul, Christos, and each "branch" represents a new incarnation.
Q. But what proofs have you to support such an arbitrary interpretation?
Universal symbology is a warrant for its correctness and that it is not arbitrary. Hermas says of "God" that he "planted the Vineyard," i.e., he created mankind. In the Cabala, it is shown that the Aged of the Aged, or the "Long Face," plants a vineyard, the latter typifying mankind; and a vine, meaning Life. The Spirit of "King Messiah" is, therefore, shown as washing his garments in the wine from above, from the creation of the world. [Zohar XL, 10] And King Messiah is the Ego purified by washing his garments (i.e., his personalities in rebirth), in the wine from above, or Buddhi. Adam, or A-Dam, is "blood." The Life of the flesh is in the blood (nephesh-soul). And Adam-Kadmon is the Only-Begotten. Noah also plants a vineyard-the allegorical hotbed of future humanity. As a consequence of the adoption of the same allegory, we find it reproduced in the Nazarene Codex. Seven vines are procreated-which seven vines are our Seven Races with their seven Saviors or Buddhas-which spring from Iukabar Zivo, and Ferho (or Parcha) Raba waters them.[Codex Nazareus, iii, pp. 60,61] When the blessed will ascend among the creatures of Light, they shall see Iavar-Xivo, Lord of Life, and the First Vine.[Cod. Naz., ii, p.281] These Cabalistic metaphors are thus naturally repeated in the Gospel according to St. John./p>
Let us not forget that in the human system-even according to those philosophies which ignore our septenary division-the Ego or thinking man is called the Logos, or the Son of Soul and Spirit. "Manas is the adopted Son of King *** and Queen ***" (esoteric equivalents for Atma and Buddhi), says an occult work. He is the "man-god" of Plato, who crucifies himself in Space (or the duration of the life cycle) for the redemption of Matter. This he does by incarnating over and over again, thus leading mankind onward to perfection, and making thereby room for lower forms to develop into higher. Not for one life does he cease progressing himself and helping all physical nature to progress; even the occasional, very rare event of his losing one of his personalities, in the case of the latter being entirely devoid of even a spark of spirituality, helps toward his individual progress.
Q. But surely, if the Ego is held responsible for the transgressions of its personalities, it has to answer also for the loss, or rather the complete annihilation, of one of such.
A. Not at all, unless it has done nothing to avert this dire fate. But if, all its efforts notwithstanding, its voice, that of our conscience, was unable to penetrate through the wall of matter, then the obtuseness of the latter proceeding from the imperfect nature of the material is classed with other failures of nature. The Ego is sufficiently punished by the loss of Devachan, and especially by having to incarnate almost immediately.
Q. This doctrine of the possibility of losing one's soul-or personality, do you call it?-militates against the ideal theories of both Christians and Spiritualists, though Swedenborg adopts it to a certain extent, in what he calls Spiritual death. They will never accept it.
A. This can in no way alter a fact in nature, if it be a fact, or prevent such a thing occasionally taking place. The universe and everything in it, moral, mental, physical, psychic, or Spiritual, is built on a perfect law of equilibrium and harmony. As said before (see Isis Unveiled), the centripetal force could not manifest itself without the centrifugal in the harmonious revolutions of the spheres, and all forms and their progress are the products of this dual force in nature. Now the Spirit (or Buddhi) is the centrifugal and the soul (Manas) the centripetal spiritual energy; and to produce one result they have to be in perfect union and harmony. Break or damage the centripetal motion of the earthly soul tending toward the center which attracts it; arrest its progress by clogging it with a heavier weight of matter than it can bear, or than is fit for the Devachanic state, and the harmony of the whole will be destroyed. Personal life, or perhaps rather its ideal reflection, can only be continued if sustained by the two-fold force, that is by the close union of Buddhi and Manas in every rebirth or personal life. The least deviation from harmony damages it; and when it is destroyed beyond redemption the two forces separate at the moment of death. During a brief interval the personal form (called indifferently Kamarupa and Mayavirupa), the spiritual efflorescence of which, attaching itself to the Ego, follows it into Devachan and gives to the permanent individuality its personal coloring (pro tem, so to speak), is carried off to remain in Kamaloka and to be gradually annihilated. For it is after the death of the utterly depraved, the unspiritual and the wicked beyond redemption, that arrives the critical and supreme moment. If during life the ultimate and desperate effort of the Inner Self (Manas), to unite something of the personality with itself and the high glimmering ray of the divine Buddhi, is thwarted; if this ray is allowed to be more and more shut out from the ever-thickening crust of physical brain, the Spiritual Ego or Manas, once freed from the body, remains severed entirely from the ethereal relic of the personality; and the latter, or Kamarupa, following its earthly attractions, is drawn into and remains in Hades, which we call the Kamaloka. These are "the withered branches" mentioned by Jesus as being cut off from the Vine. Annihilation, however, is never instantaneous, and may require centuries sometimes for its accomplishment. But there the personality remains along with the remnants of other more fortunate personal Egos, and becomes with them a shell and an Elementary. As said in Isis Unveiled, it is these two classes of "Spirits," the shells and the Elementaries, which are the leading "Stars" on the great spiritual stage of "materializations." And you may be sure of it, it is not they who incarnate; and, therefore, so few of these "dear departed ones" know anything of reincarnation, misleading thereby the Spiritualists.
Q. But does not the author of Isis Unveiled stand accused of having preached against reincarnation?
A. By those who have misunderstood what was said, yes. At the time that work was written, reincarnation was not believed in by any Spiritualists, either English or American, and what is said there of reincarnation was directed against the French Spiritists, whose theory is as unphilosophical and absurd as the Eastern teaching is logical and self-evident in its truth. The Reincarnationists of the Allan Kardec School believe in an arbitrary and immediate reincarnation. With them, the dead father can incarnate in his own unborn daughter, and so on. They have neither Devachan, Karma, nor any philosophy that would warrant or prove the necessity of consecutive rebirths. But how can the author of Isis Unveiled argue against Karmic reincarnation, at long intervals varying between 1,000 and 1,500 years, when it is the fundamental belief of both Buddhists and Hindus?
Q. Then you reject the theories of both the Spiritists and the Spiritualists, in their entirety?
A. Not in their entirety, but only with regard to their respective fundamental beliefs. Both rely on what their "Spirits" tell them; and both disagree as much with each other as we Theosophists disagree with both. Truth is one; and when we hear the French spooks preaching reincarnation, and the English spooks denying and denouncing the doctrine, we say that either the French or the English "Spirits" do not know what they are talking about. We believe with the Spiritualists and the Spiritists in the existence of "Spirits," or invisible Beings endowed with more or less intelligence. But, while in our teachings their kinds and genera are legion, our opponents admit of no other than human disembodied "Spirits," which, to our knowledge, are mostly Kamalokic Shells.
Q. You seem very bitter against Spirits. As you have given me your views and your reasons for disbelieving in the materialization of, and direct communication in seances, with the disembodied spirits-or the "spirits of the dead"-would you mind enlightening me as to one more fact? Why are some Theosophists never tired of saying how dangerous is intercourse with spirits, and mediumship? Have they any particular reason for this?
A. We must suppose so. I know I have. Owing to my familiarity for over half a century with these invisible, yet but too tangible and undeniable "influences," from the conscious Elementals, semi-conscious shells, down to the utterly senseless and nondescript spooks of all kinds, I claim a certain right to my views.
Q. Can you give an instance or instances to show why these practices should be regarded as dangerous?
A. This would require more time than I can give you. Every cause must be judged by the effects it produces. Go over the history of Spiritualism for the last fifty years, ever since its reappearance in this century in America-and judge for yourself whether it has done its votaries more good or harm. Pray understand me. I do not speak against real Spiritualism, but against the modern movement which goes under that name, and the so-called philosophy invented to explain its phenomena.
Q. Don't you believe in their phenomena at all?
A. It is because I believe in them with too good reason, and (save some cases of deliberate fraud) know them to be as true as that you and I live, that all my being revolts against them. Once more I speak only of physical, not mental or even psychic phenomena. Like attracts like. There are several high-minded, pure, good men and women, known to me personally, who have passed years of their lives under the direct guidance and even protection of high "Spirits," whether disembodied or planetary. But these Intelligences are not of the type of the John Kings and the Ernests who figure in seance rooms. These Intelligences guide and control mortals only in rare and exceptional cases to which they are attracted and magnetically drawn by the Karmic past of the individual. It is not enough to sit "for development" in order to attract them. That only opens the door to a swarm of "spooks," good, bad, and indifferent, to which the medium becomes a slave for life. It is against such promiscuous mediumship and intercourse with goblins that I raise my voice, not against spiritual mysticism. The latter is ennobling and holy; the former is of just the same nature as the phenomena of two centuries ago, for which so many witches and wizards have been made to suffer. Read Glanvil and other authors on the subject of witchcraft, and you will find recorded there the parallels of most, if not all, of the physical phenomena of nineteenth century "Spiritualism."
Q. Do you mean to suggest that it is all witchcraft and nothing more?
A. What I mean is that, whether conscious or unconscious, all this dealing with the dead is necromancy, and a most dangerous practice. For ages before Moses such raising of the dead was regarded by all the intelligent nations as sinful and cruel, inasmuch as it disturbs the rest of the souls and interferes with their evolutionary development into higher states. The collective wisdom of all past centuries has ever been loud in denouncing such practices. Finally, I say, what I have never ceased repeating orally and in print for fifteen years: While some of the so-called "spirits" do not know what they are talking about, repeating merely-like poll-parrots-what they find in the mediums' and other people's brains, others are most dangerous, and can only lead one to evil. These are two self-evident facts. Go into Spiritualistic circles of the Allan Kardec school, and you find "spirits" asserting reincarnation and speaking like Roman Catholics born. Turn to the "dear departed ones" in England and America, and you will hear them denying reincarnation through thick and thin, denouncing those who teach it, and holding to Protestant views. Your best, your most powerful mediums, have all suffered in health of body and mind. Think of the sad end of Charles Foster, who died in an asylum, a raving lunatic; of Slade, an epileptic; of Eglinton-the best medium now in England-subject to the same. Look back over the life of D.D. Home, a man whose mind was steeped in gall and bitterness, who never had a good word to say of anyone whom he suspected of possessing psychic powers, and who slandered every other medium to the bitter end. This Calvin of Spiritualism suffered for years from a terrible spinal disease, brought on by his intercourse with the "spirits," and died a perfect wreck. Think again of the sad fate of poor Washington Irving Bishop. I knew him in New York, when he was fourteen, and he was undeniably a medium. It is true that the poor man stole a march on his "spirits," and baptized them "unconscious muscular action," to the great gaudium of all the corporations of highly learned and scientific fools, and to the replenishment of his own pocket. But de mortuis nil nisi bonum; his end was a sad one. He had strenuously concealed his epileptic fits-the first and strongest symptom of genuine mediumship-and who knows whether he was dead or in a trance when the postmortem examination was performed? His relatives insist that he was alive, if we are to believe Reuter's telegrams. Finally, behold the veteran mediums, the founders and prime movers of modern spiritualism-the Fox sisters. After more than forty years of intercourse with the "Angels," the latter have led them to become incurable sots, who are now denouncing, in public lectures, their own life-long work and philosophy as a fraud. What kind of spirits must they be who prompted them, I ask you?
Q. But is your inference a correct one?
A. What would you infer if the best pupils of a particular school of singing broke down from overstrained sore throats? That the method followed was a bad one. So I think the inference is equally fair with regard to Spiritualism when we see their best mediums fall a prey to such a fate. We can only say: Let those who are interested in the question judge the tree of Spiritualism by its fruits, and ponder over the lesson. We Theosophists have always regarded the Spiritualists as brothers having the same mystic tendency as ourselves, but they have always regarded us as enemies. We, being in possession of an older philosophy, have tried to help and warn them; but they have repaid us by reviling and traducing us and our motives in every possible way. Nevertheless, the best English Spiritualists say just as we do, wherever they treat of their belief seriously. Hear "M.A. Oxon" confessing this truth:
Spiritualists are too much inclined to dwell exclusively on the intervention of external spirits in this world of ours, and to ignore the powers of the incarnate Spirit.
Why vilify and abuse us, then, for saying precisely the same? Henceforward, we will have nothing more to do with Spiritualism. And now let us return to Reincarnation.